Reinier de Graaf, “Phantom Urbanism”

Once cities were designed to accommodate the masses; today the masses have to be seduced. During the past forty years, like all sectors of the economy, urban planning has become free enterprise: a perpetually speculative activity, which must give shape to developments even if it remains uncertain whether those developments will ever happen, or attract the people for whom they were planned.

This presentation explores the flipside: large urban plans that were built but never used. These now occur on every continent – the inevitable fallout of a world urbanizing at a staggering pace. But perhaps they are more… perhaps these towns also constitute compelling reasons for reflection in the face of a seemingly unbreakable consensus that the city is our one and only common future.

Reinier de Graaf (1964, Schiedam) is a Dutch architect, architectural theorist, urbanist and writer. He is the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)’s longest serving non-founding partner, leading projects in Europe, Russia and the Middle East. His recent built work includes the Timmerhuis, a mixed-use project in Rotterdam widely recognized for its innovation in ways of working and living, sustainability and cost efficiency; fashion brand G-Star Raw’s corporate and design headquarters in Amsterdam; and De Rotterdam, currently the largest building in the Netherlands.

Reinier is a co-founder of OMA’s think tank AMO and has taught at various institutions, such as the Strelka Institute for Media Architecture and Design, The Berlage Institute and the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of the book Four Walls and a Roof: The Complex Nature of a Simple Profession, named best books of 2017 by both the Financial Times and the Guardian.

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